Sunday, February 19, 2006

Quick post post

Date: Feb. 18
Mileage: 104
February mileage: 354.0
Temperature upon departure: 32

Hello. I don't really have the time or coherence of mind to do a full race report by now, but I thought I could drop in a note for those who might be watching the Susitna 100 race results and are feeling a bit concerned that I checked in 13 miles from the finish at 5:45 a.m. and haven't finished yet (for the record, I came in at 9:54 a.m. I'm sure the Web site will update soon.)

I'm back and elated that I finished. I did manage to make most of my goals for the race - that is: survive, survive with all my digits intact, and finish the race. I was on pace to make it to the finish in 24 hours, but I wasen't paying attention and took an accidental 2-mile detour toward the end of the race that I had to backtrack - earning me an extra four miles but costing the 24-hour cutoff.

So I accomplished my goals. But in the fully-sunlit hindsight of my race, I'm feeling a little disappointment with my performance. This stems from something I've been saying all along - that, for me, the Susitna 100 was a psychological race. A real test of mind over body. And now I realize that my body did great. My mind, however, really dropped the ball.

I'll try to post in more depth tomorrow. But, basically, the race started out with ideal trail conditions. I was pushing easy, enjoying the sunshine reflecting across the frozen boreal bogs. I was halfway through the race in eight hours, feeling strong, certain I was on pace for an 18-hour race. I was stoked. And that's where I let my guard down.

Right after sunset, just as I was checking out of the 53-mile checkpoint, a heavy rain started coming down. The warm, wet downpour, compounded by temps in the 34-37 degree range and daylong sun quickly reduced the trail to soft sugar. Within an hour I was soaked to the core, fighting the pounding headwind out on the exposed surface of the Yetna River and plunging through a trail that had the consistency of wet sugar. I could have just dealt with the fact that movement was going to be slower. I could have stopped and put on a change to dry clothing. But I dwelt on the sudden misfortune and I let it get to me. I pushed through most of Dismal Swamp because it was truly unrideable for someone with my type of bike. But the time I returned to the 25-mile checkpoint, there was two or three new inches of wet snow accumulated on the ground, and it was coming down quick. I think that was the point I gave into my suffering. I was having such a hard time pedaling that I decided I was going to walk the rest of it. All said, I probably walked 25 of the last 40 miles. Of course, now I'm asking myself a lot of questions about that decision - was it really necessary? Did I really need to take it at that level? Couldn't I have pushed a little harder, despite my lack of perfect equipment or experience?

The psychology of racing is interesting. Now, looking back on it, I see that my body wasen't hurting. My body felt strong. But everything about my last 40 miles was so frustrating, frustrating - all because conditions started out so well, and deteriorated so suddenly. Still, I am really happy to have finished - and even the really tough stuff about the experience just make me want to go out next year and try again as a season veteran. I didn't mean to be such a downer in this post. But, these are my first post-race, pre-sleep thoughts. More tomorrow. Pictures too.

30 comments:

  1. Yay! Now go eat some pepsi and goldfish and get some sleep. Congrats!

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  2. I've heard of many rookies in this race quitting in the middle of the night, freaked out by darkness, the hardship, the remote location and the fear of encountering a moose or wolves on the trail.

    You gutted it out and finished under tough lousy conditions. Good job.

    You've earned a nice long break from the bike, a big meal and a long sleep.

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  3. YAY! We were getting worried -- thoroughly glad to know you're in. Get that well-deserved rest.

    You 'da woman!

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  4. AND you wrote a coherent post before sacking out for the afternoon. Forgot to mention that.

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  5. Awesome job, Jill! Way to finish a very tough race. The psychological part gets easier but I still have to be careful not to let myself get down. I'm sure I learn even more about my mind in RAAM.

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  6. Kevin4:56 PM

    Jill, You're my hero :)

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  7. Anonymous5:52 PM

    Way too go Jill. I am impressed. There is no way I could have gone as far as you did in those conditions.

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  8. That is awesome! Your training paid off and I am super impressed! Way to go.

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  9. Anonymous6:20 PM

    Yah Jill,
    I'm so glad to hear you finished in one piece. I kept updating the site .... and worrying. You have no reason to get down on yourself for not completing the "perfect" race - you did it, you finished, you accomplished something that most of us wouldn't even try. nuff said. Next time, given your determination, you'll probably win.
    Carey

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  10. Jill, if you consider this post a superficial analysis, I'd hate to see a really in depth analysis. Don't be too hard on yourself! You did fantastic finishing the course and will do better next year. You now have a better idea of what you are up against and coming that close on your first time out of the gate is a wonderfull job! Essentially, the course did NOT beat you, and so what if you made a little routing mistake! I think you did an OUTSTANDING JOB young lady!::GRIN::

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  11. Way to go, lady! You finished the race and you did it in horrid conditions. Next year you will eat it up!
    Congrats

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  12. No matter how disappointed you might be--and I don't think you should be--you really inspired all of us. We are in awe of you, Jill. What you just did was amazing.

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  13. Way to go Jill - excellent. I can't wait to read the full results.

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  14. Jill, its not unusual to be a bit down after a race like this. Just wait til you're sat round with your mates and a beer, recounting the adventure. The joy and self-fulfilment will come back then. What you did was a big thing, well done.

    Cheers

    TIm

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  15. now that your hooked on such events this will only make you better/smarter/stronger/faster.

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  16. Awesome job! You have nothing to be disappointed with, you did *real* good:-)

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  17. I'll second Tom Stormcrowe's post. Good Job.

    Peace

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  18. Anonymous6:18 AM

    Jill! You are awesome! You finished! You are pretty hard core!!!
    Monika

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  19. A little fitness and a lot of belief in yourself works wonders. You did it... congrats! Here's to your next adventure!

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  20. Way to go, Jill! Not only did you complete the 100 miles, but you walked a marathon, pushing your bike and equipment through snow and slush! That is impressive.

    Congratulations!

    Darren

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  21. Congratulations! A little post-race second-guessing is natural, but frankly, it sounds like you absolutely rocked this! Pat yourself on the back, give your body some treats and bask in your accomplishment!

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  22. Looks to me like you raced an incredible race. And try to banish those "could've done better" demons. Those demons are liars. The reason you got off and pushed was becasue you thought that was what you needed to do to finish the race. In hindsight, realizing you still had something in the tank after the race, you know you probably could have ridden part of that. That's cool, use that knowledge for next year. But meanwhile, give yourself massive credit: You just completed a race that most people (me included) would never dare register for.

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  23. Anonymous8:40 AM

    Gret job. Really impressive.

    Botched

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  24. When last I did 'my race,' I crossed the finish line and the timer read out my time, which was only four seconds faster than the previous year, and my initial reaction was, "What?! Are you serious?" Then I coasted to a stop and promptly threw up.
    I second Fatty's comment. Don't let the demons bug you. It's just the first of what will surely be many Susitnas, and that means you have time for improvement. And besides, if you didn't know it would take you to the brink of cracking, you probably wouldn't have done it.
    Nice race, Jill.

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  25. I don't think anyone here who is a cyclist can even relate to what you have just gone through. A typical "century" training regime doesn't even come close when you throw in the Alaskan elements. A true "man versus nature" battle with perhaps a little "man versus man" intrigue toward the end.

    I found myself refreshing the update page often on saturday checking your progress. Congrats on an amazing feat!

    Nik

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  26. You did an awesome job!! Yes, sometimes the mental part is harder than the physical but you stuck it out, which is the mark of a winner!

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  27. I know I'm impressed. You are awesome, girl. A true champion.

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  28. Yay Jill!!! You did an awesome job. As others I was checking the site all day looking for updates to see how you were doing.

    Just remember you did something most would first never think was possible to attempt and second wouldn't even want to. Your a champion.

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  29. Congrats, I don't think you're mental side let you down at all. Letting you down would be causing you to quit completely instead, you found. Out of curiousity, what was wrong with your choice of bike? Not that I plan to subject myself to that anytime soon.

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  30. Oh my goodness!! Congratulations!! You surely amaze me!!! Great Job!!
    :-0}

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